Three reasons FC Dallas can win a first MLS Cup title this season

FC Dallas picked up a fifth win of the season with their comprehensive 3-0 victory at Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. They are still the only unbeaten side in MLS this term and are on track to retain their Supporters’ Shield title come the end of the season. But the club know they need to lift the MLS Cup trophy, given how well they’ve developed over the past three years.

Despite playing in all 22 MLS seasons to date (including the current campaign), FC Dallas have only been to one MLS Cup Final, in which they lost 2-1 to Colorado in extra-time in 2010. Since then, they’ve only won two of their six playoff games and were eliminated by eventual champions Seattle last year in their Western Conference semifinal clash.

Many felt Dallas were the team to beat heading into the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. They had just lifted a first-ever Supporters’ Shield and topped the West with 60 points for the second-successive year. On top of that, Dallas also lifted last season’s US Open Cup, becoming the first MLS team to win a double since 2014. Their priority this year is to get their hands on that elusive MLS Cup and here are three reasons why they look set to do it.

Consistency

Oscar Pareja’s men have picked up 18 points from their first eight games of the 2017 season. That’s one more than they had after eight games in 2016 and four more than they had in 2015. They have finished with 60 points in each of the last two seasons – an amount that has been enough to win the Supporters’ Shield for the past two seasons, and only missed out on the 2015 title as a result of an inferior goalscoring record to the Red Bulls.

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Major League Soccer is impossible to predict week-to-week and yet Dallas remain competitive, no matter the circumstances. They have the ninth-smallest wage bill in the league with the youngest team in the league and seem to have depth all over the field. They have only lost one of their last 16 regular season games in total and haven’t suffered back-to-back defeats for 12 months.

Fitness

One of the key reasons Dallas remain so consistent is the fact they can run until the very last kick of the game. They don’t score many early goals – they are the only team yet to score in the first 30 minutes of a game this year – but they have scored 90% of their goals this season in the second half and their relentless pressure often pays off. The young legs throughout the side help, but Pareja and his coaching staff deserve great credit for ensuring fitness levels are always impressively high.

Home record

We all know a strong home record provides a platform for success in football. It’s the case all over the world but it’s imperative in MLS, given the long-distance travel teams have to endure for road games over the course of a campaign. For Dallas, Toyota Stadium is a fortress. They have only lost one of their last 29 MLS games at home and have won 74% of their home matches over the past two seasons.

Dallas are good wherever they play but whenever they take to the field in front of their own supporters, they seem to play with even more confidence and never look like losing. If they can keep that going over the remainder of this term, they should put themselves in a position to win a second-successive Supporters’ Shield, as well as a first MLS Cup title in December.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, September 10 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Dallas 8/13 – Draw 13/5 – Colorado 9/2

Match Preview

FC Dallas welcome Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids to Toyota Stadium on Saturday night in a game which could have a huge impact on the race for the Supporters’ Shield.

Dallas lead the way in the overall standings by five points and a win here would put them in a really strong position to push on for silverware.

A loss would be a devastating result, as Colorado have two games in hand on them and trail by just five points, and it would open up the chance for other sides to close the gap.

Dallas come into this one having won 3-1 against Portland, stretching their unbeaten home run to 21 games.

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Although Colorado have two games in hand they have plenty of work to do if they are to make up the ground on Dallas.

A draw in this one would be a solid result. Considering they face a Dallas side who have an incredible record at home, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see The Rapids set out to frustrate their opponents.

Colorado come into this one off the back of their 2-0 away loss to New England. The Rapids have now lost their last two and are winless in four.

Worryingly for Colorado they haven’t won in their last six on the road, losing three and drawing three. It will be a tough task to bring that run to an end here.

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Team News

Zach Loyd remains the only injury concern for FC Dallas as he is out with concussion.

Colorado Rapids have three injury concerns ahead of the game as Dillon Serna is out, while Sean St. Ledger and Jermaine Jones are both doubts.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: W/D/L/W/W

Colorado Rapids’ last five: W/D/D/L/L

Key Stat: FC Dallas on a staggering 21 game unbeaten run at home in MLS.

Key Player: Tim Howard – The last line of defence for Colorado has been impressive since he joined the team, if he can perform to his high standards he will give his side a great chance of getting a positive result.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-1 Colorado Rapids – Dallas to come out of this tie with three points. It has the makings of a close one but once again, given their home form and Colorado’s recent winless run on the road, a win for FC Dallas looks likely.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Thursday, June 3 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

Match Odds: Dallas 3/5 – Draw 3/1 – Houston 9/2

Match Preview

FC Dallas welcome struggling Team rivals Houston Dynamo to Toyota Stadium on Wednesday evening in a tie which looks like it could be one-way traffic.

Dallas come into the tie off the back of their 0-0 draw with San Jose, which was a missed opportunity to go top of the Western Conference.

Oscar Pareja will be pleased with how his side are performing. They are unbeaten in their last four outings, although that draw last time out did end a three-game winning streak.

A win here would be a great way to head into the two-week international break for Dallas as they would go top of the West due to Colorado not playing. Home form for Dallas suggests a win is a likely outcome, as they are unbeaten in their last 14 regular season outings at Toyota Stadium.

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Houston Dynamo remain bottom of the Western Conference and come into this one off the back of their 1-1 draw with Vancouver.

Houston are not bottom of the Supporters’ Shield standings but that is only by a point. They will be looking to build some slightly better form and work their way up the table now.

Dynamo have picked up seven points in their last five games and if they can continue to improve in the coming weeks they are more than capable of turning their season around.

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Team News

FC Dallas could be without up to seven. Matt Hedges, Alex Zendejas, Maximiliano Urruti and Michael Barrios could are all carrying injuries, while Carlos Gruezo, Maynor Figueroa and Kellyn Acosta are all missing through international duty.

Houston Dynamo have two injury concerns to Raul Rodriguez and DaMarcus Beasley. They will be without Giles Barnes who is also on international duty.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: L/W/W/W/D

Houston Dynamo’s last five: W/L/W/L/D

Key Stat: FC Dallas are unbeaten in their last 14 regular season games at Toyota Stadium.

Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The Dallas winger has that something special which can unlock any defence. He has three goals so far this season and will be looking to add to his tally here.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-0 Houston Dynamo – Dallas to extend their unbeaten home run and heap more misery on Houston. The Dallas faithful will be expecting nothing less than a win in this one and so long as Pareja’s players don’t have any lapses in concentration they should take three points.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Sunday, April 17 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 8/11 – Draw 11/4 – Kansas City 15/4

Match Preview

FC Dallas host Sporting Kansas City at Toyota Stadium on Sunday night in a clash between two sides at the very top of the Western Conference.

FC Dallas impressed in the first outing of their double game week on Wednesday, winning 3-1 away against Portland Timbers in a tie that saw them net three times within the first half hour.

Oscar Pareja’s side are top of the Western Conference and lead the Supporters’ Shield standings heading into the weekend. Their home form has been impeccable and they have scored at least twice in ten of their last 11 outings in front of their own fans.

Dallas won the last meeting between the sides at Toyota Stadium 3-1 and will be hoping they can repeat that result this time around to remain top of the pile at this early stage of the campaign.

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Sporting Kansas City suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Colorado Rapids in the first outing of their double game week on Wednesday evening in what was a surprise result.

They dropped from top of the West to second and now trail Dallas by two points heading into this tie. Peter Vermes will be ruing his side’s late lapse of concentration after they had levelled against Colorado before then throwing away a share of the points.

SKC will be feeling confident heading into this tie as they have won the last three meetings between the side’s in all competitions, scoring 13 times in those matches.

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Team News

FC Dallas have just two injury concerns heading into this tie as Alex Zendejas and Mauro Diaz are both expected to miss out. Carlos Gruezo is one caution away from suspension and will need to watch his step.

Sporting Kansas City have seven injury concerns. Justin Mapp, Soni Mustivar, Kevin Ellis and Chance Myers are all expected to miss out, while Brad Davis, Matt Besler and Paulo Nagamura are all doubts. Key players Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber started Wednesday’s game on the bench but should both start from the outset here.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ form: W/W/D/D/W

Sporting Kansas City’s form: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat: FC Dallas are unbeaten in their last 11 MLS matches at Toyota Stadium.

Key Player: Tesho Akindele – The Dallas forward has netted three in six so far this season including the third for his side in midweek and looks to be in good shape. He will want to add to his tally here and fire Dallas to success once more.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – FC Dallas look set to inflict a second loss in as many matches on Sporting Kansas City and remain top of the Western Conference. They are a real force, particularly at home, and have to be fancied above Sporting KC to take all three points on Sunday.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Western Conference Final Second Leg): FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers 

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Sunday, November 29 – 17:00 EST (22:00 GMT)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – Portland Timbers 3/1

Match Preview

It’s crunch time in the MLS Cup Playoffs as FC Dallas have to overturn a two goal deficit against Portland Timbers from the first leg of the Western Conference Final after losing 3-1 at Providence Park last weekend.

FC Dallas will be confident of a win on the night as they have won last six home matches, and of course finished top of the Western Conference during the regular season.

However, they have been far too fragile defensively of late. Having conceded six in their last three matches in the playoffs, a clean sheet will be crucial.

FC Dallas’ 2015 MLS record: P37 – W19 – D6 – L12

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Portland are the in-form team of the last four remaining playoff teams, having won their last four away matches in MLS and look in really good shape.

As much as form is essential in the run up to any match, FC Dallas have the capability to score goals and defensively Portland will have to be good.

Portland Timbers’ 2015 record: P38 – W17 – D10 – L11

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They do go to Toyota Stadium with a two goal cushion, and so have a safety net to hang on to, but Dallas have the away goal and that could play into their hands late on.

Either way, this game will be entertaining and should prove to be another thrilling contest.

Team News

FC Dallas are without Rolando Escobar and Bakary Soumare through injury.

Portland Timbers are without Ben Zemanski through injury.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: W/W/L/W/L

Portland Timbers’ last five: W/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: Portland Timber have won six of their last seven matches in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Darlington Nagbe – The Portland attacking midfielder was the standout performer in the first leg and can turn any game in a flash with his ability.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-1 Portland Timbers – We’re expecting Portland to progress on the night, but Dallas should win the match. Once again, it is always tough to call MLS Playoff matches and both teams are capable of scoring freely so this should be a great contest.

MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Western Conference Semifinal Second Leg) – FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Sunday, November 8 – 19:30 ET (00:30 GMT)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 10/11 – Draw 5/2 – Seattle Sounders 3/1

Match Preview

FC Dallas face Seattle Sounders on Sunday evening in the crucial second leg of their Western Conference MLS Playoff Semifinal.

The first leg ended with Dallas losing 2-1 late on after Clint Dempsey’s wonder-goal earned the Sounders a vital win. This tie is far from over though and Dallas will be aware of that.

FC Dallas boast brilliant home form, winning nine of their last ten, and they have the ability to turn this around. But recent form against Seattle would suggest this is going to be a tough task, having only won one of their last five against Sunday’s opponents.

Dallas have scored 24 goals in their last ten games, so are in great form in front of goal and there are plenty of positives despite being behind on aggregate. Dallas didn’t finish top of the Western Conference by chance.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas

Seattle Sounders have done half the job, but this a bigger challenge than the one they faced last week.

Dempsey’s late winner was a huge moment for them in the tie, but conceding the Dallas away goal was a real blow and could prove to be their undoing.

Sounders need to approach this positively and not be overly cautious. If Dallas sense any nerves it could be an evening of disappointment for the away side.

Seattle haven’t lost to Dallas this season (W2 D1) with the only meeting between the sides at Toyota Stadium ending 0-0, so Seattle know they have a great chance of progressing but will have to be at their best.

Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

Team News

FC Dallas have three injury concerns. Rolando Escobar is out, while Bakary Soumare and Kellyn Acosta are doubts.

Seattle Sounders have seven injury concerns as Roman Torres, Andres Correa and Andy Craven are out. Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Leonardo Gonzalez and Marco Pappa are all doubts.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ form: D/W/W/W/L

Seattle Sounders’ form: D/D/W/W/W

Key Stat: Fortress – FC Dallas have won nine of their last ten home matches in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The Dallas star netted his side’s only goal in the first leg and FCD will need him to be at his best if they are to progress. His pace can cause any side problems and he could be the real star on Sunday.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Fabian Castillo

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 3-1 Seattle Sounders – Dallas to turn the tie around and advance. You have to feel their crucial away goal will prove to be the difference in this one. If they are to score early on, the Sounders have to push, which will inevitably leave gaps in their defence. This one will be well worth the watch as goals look inevitable.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. DC United

Venue: Toyota Stadium –Saturday, July 18 – 21:00 ET (Sunday, July 19 – 02:00 BST) 

Match Odds: FC Dallas 4/5 – Draw 13/5 – New England Revolution 100/30

Match Preview

FC Dallas host top of the Eastern Conference DC United this weekend in what should be a tie worth watching.

Dallas have won their last three on the bounce, including last weekend’s 2-0 victory away against Orlando City.

Oscar Pareja’s side are one of three Western Conference teams who are level on 32 points, but they sit third on goal difference behind Vancouver Whitecaps in second and leaders Seattle Sounders. Dallas have played one game less than their opponents.

Fabian Castillo is in great form but missed out on the chance to score for the fourth game running in the victory over Orlando. The forward has netted seven times so far this campaign.

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DC United are leading the Eastern Conference by eight points and look comfortable despite a slight dip in form.

Ben Olsen will be hoping his side can get back to winning ways in this tie as they have lost three in their last six outings and won just twice.

They lost last time out in the away tie at Seattle Sounders in a tight game and can count themselves unlikely to have come away with a 1-0 defeat.

DC will want to keep the cushioning of the eight point lead at the top of the Eastern and must avoid losing back-to-back games to ensure the chasing pack stay out of reach. They are leading the way in the Supporters’ Shield standings by three points, which adds to the occasion as Dallas could potentially draw level on points if they win this one.

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Team News

FC Dallas have a fully fit squad going into this one but Atiba Harris remains one yellow card away from a suspension.

DC United have seven injury concerns. Eddie Johnson and Bill Hamid are set to miss out while, Michael Farfan, Collin Martin, Sean Franklin, Chris Pontius and Luis Silva are doubtful. Fabian Espindola is suspended and Perry Kitchen is one booking away from a suspension.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: L/D/W/W/W

DC United’s last five: L/W/W/D/L

Key Stat: DC United have failed to score in five of their last seven away regular season outings.

Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The obvious choice for his attacking flare and recent form.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-1 DC United – Dallas to take advantage of a slightly out of form DC side who have struggled on the road at times this season.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, May 9th – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 7/5 – Draw 23/10 – LA Galaxy 19/10

Match Preview

FC Dallas host LA Galaxy in a key Western Conference clash on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium as the home side look to extend their unbeaten run to four against the reigning MLS Cup champions.

Dallas have only lost twice this season and lead the Western Conference on 17 points, three ahead of the Galaxy in fourth, and so this is a crucial game.

FCD beat Houston Dynamo in the Texas Derby last Friday in an impressive 4-1 win and will be looking to build on that display by winning their sixth game of the campaign against the Galaxy on home soil.

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Dallas beat the Galaxy 2-1 at home last season, winning against their rivals for the first time since 2011, and will be hoping to extend their lead to six points ahead of them come the end of play on Saturday.

The Galaxy also come into the game on an unbeaten streak, as they have not lost in five now, though three consecutive draws will have left some fans disappointed.

A 1-1 draw at home to Colorado Rapids last weekend was followed up by a 0-0 draw in Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night and head coach Bruce Arena will be hoping fatigue doesn’t cost them here.

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Juninho missed a stoppage time penalty on Wednesday night and the Galaxy have now only netted twice in their past three as the absence of Robbie Keane is clearly affecting them.

Fabian Castillo is in incredible form, having scored three and picked up three assists in Dallas’ last three outings, and he will look to cause the Galaxy defence all kinds of problems.

Team News

FC Dallas have five injury worries ahead of the game as Coy Craft, Stephen Keel, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges and Chris Seitz all look set to miss out. Blas Perez will return in attack after serving his suspension, while Ryan Hollingshead should keep Tesho Akindele on the bench again.

LA Galaxy have six players ruled out through injury as Brian Perk, Robbie Keane, Jose Villarreal, Edson Buddle, Todd Dunivant and Kenney Walker will all miss out. Juninho started the game at RSL on the bench and could come into start. Alan Gordon and Bradford Jamieson IV are likely to start up front again.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: L/L/W/D/W

LA Galaxy’s last five: W/W/D/D/D

Key Stat: FC Dallas have scored more goals than any other side in MLS so far this season (15) but they have registered the fewest shots per game (9). Efficient.

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Key Player: Fabian Castillo – Hard to overlook the Colombian winger after an incredible run of form has seen him look unstoppable. He could prove the difference here.

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 3-1 LA Galaxy – FC Dallas are looking to be in real good form and will build on their convincing win against Houston with another victory in this one. The Galaxy will be tired from their Wednesday night trip to Rio Tinto Stadium and will lose their first in five in Dallas this weekend.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer –  FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids 

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Friday, April 10th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 4/6 – Draw 11/4 – Colorado Rapids 4/1

Match Preview

FC Dallas entertain Colorado Rapids at Toyota Stadium in this week’s Friday night game as teams at opposite ends of the Western Conference go head-to-head.

FC Dallas have enjoyed a great start to the season, sitting second in the Supporters’ Shield standings on ten points from their opening five games. They have lost only once so far and have to fancy their chances of another three points at home in this one.

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By contrast, Colorado Rapids have drawn three of their first four games and need to get that important first win of the season to get them off the foot of the Western Conference.

Dallas suffered a disappointing loss to the Portland Timbers last weekend and will be keen to get back to winning ways after two without a win now. The draw against Seattle Sounders isn’t a bad result but given their opening three wins, Oscar Pareja will be hoping for better this time out.

The worrying thing for Rapids coach, Pablo Mastroeni, is that his side haven’t actually scored a goal this season and that needs to change quickly to avoid it becoming a mental issue for his players.

The Colorado head coach won’t be able to direct his players from the touchline in this one though as he will serve a one-game suspension for the red card he received last weekend.

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Blas Perez has an impressive three in his first four games and will hope he can add to his tally against a Rapids backline that didn’t look as solid in last week’s defeat to New England.

Dallas won all three of last season’s meetings against Colorado and have won their last four home games against the Rapids and everything is point towards that becoming five in a row on Friday.

Team News

FC Dallas have four injury concerns as Coy Craft, Stephen Keel, Dan Kennedy and Mauro Diaz could all be set to sit this one out. Dallas will be looking to their in-form forwards, Blas Perez, Fabian Castillo and Tesho Akindele to all continue to shine, having scored six between them so far this season.

Colorado Rapids could be without five as Carlos Alvarez, Drew Moor and Sam Cronin are all set to miss out through injury. Axel Sjoberg and Marc Burch are doubtful but will be pushing for a place in the squad. A goal from anywhere on the field is what the Rapids need, just to get off the mark for the season will be a huge relief.

Key Points

FC Dallas form: W/W/W/D/L

Colorado Rapids form: D/D/D/L

Key Stat: Goalless – The Rapids haven’t found the net in 10 hours of MLS action now and need to turn things around quickly after equalling a league record of 18 consecutive games without a win.

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Key Player: Blas Perez – The Dallas forward is in fine form and will surely continue his goalscoring form in this one.

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 3-1 Colorado Rapids – Rapids off the mark but not able to stop Dallas getting back to winning ways in what should be a largely one-sided affair.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, March 14 – 20:30 ET (00:30 GMT – Sunday 15)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 23/20 – Draw 23/10 – Kansas City 12/5

Match Preview

FC Dallas host Sporting Kansas City at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night in a battle between two Western Conference sides that are expected to make the MLS Playoffs this year.

Dallas come into the game full of confidence after a late Blas Perez header earned them a 1-0 win against San Jose Earthquakes in front of their own fans last Saturday.

Sporting KC have moved to the West but faced Eastern Conference opposition in the New York Red Bulls last weekend, playing out a 1-1 draw at Sporting Park and they will be without Matt Besler for the trip to Dallas after the USMNT defender was sent off on Sunday night.

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Getting something to take back to Kansas City at Toyota Stadium is unlikely though as FC Dallas have won 10 of their last 12 at home in MLS.

Last year’s only meeting between the two ended 1-1 at Sporting Park with two goals in the last ten minutes sharing the points. The last meeting at Toyota Stadium came in 2013 and also ended as a draw.

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This will be the first of three meetings between Dallas and Sporting KC this season but both are likely to be battling at the top end of the Western Conference come the end of the regular season.

Saturday night’s game will be the 50th Major League Soccer game between the two clubs and it should be an entertaining one as the pair have scored 151 goals in the previous 49 meetings.

Team News

FC Dallas have no fresh injury concerns going into the game but will still be without Stephen Keel (foot) and Coy Craft (shoulder). Head coach Oscar Pareja is unlikely to make any changes to his side so Chris Seitz could retain his place in goal with Dan Kennedy settling for a place on the bench again.

Sporting Kansas City will be without Matt Besler as he serves a one-game suspension while Chance Myers is also out (achilles). Amadou Dia is likely to keep his place at right-back while Erik Palmer-Brown will come in to replace Besler and will hope to keep things tight at the back alongside Ike Opara.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ form: W

Sporting Kansas City’s form: D

Key Stat: Both sides have scored in each of the last six meeting between the clubs. There have been 23 goals in those past six games.

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Key Player: Blas Perez – Perez scored the winner in last week’s win against San Jose and ended the last campaign with five in his last seven. Expect him to be a threat again against an SKC defence that is going to have to cope without Besler.

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – The loss of Besler for this one is huge for Sporting KC and Dallas will look to benefit from that. It should be a close game but the home advantage should help see FC Dallas across the line.